Thanksgiving Day football this year features some depressing matchups between the mediocre Lions and dumpster fires that are the Texans, Cowboys and Washington. Instead of ripping hair out in frustration that Houston traded Deandre Hopkins to Arizona for a bag of potato chips, turn to one of these films or TV episodes to relax after settling political disputes between grandparents at dinner.
1. "Friends" – "The One Where Underdog Gets Away"
The king of Thanksgiving episodes had to take the number one spot on this list. "The One Where Underdog Gets Away" starts the show’s tradition of celebrating the holiday every year on air. It establishes key canon, such as Chandler’s hatred of the holiday. There are also great bits contained to the episode, the funniest being a montage of Joey’s VD advertisement being plastered around New York City set to the tune of "Don’t Stand So Close to Me" by The Police. Return to the golden era of network sitcoms and spend Thanksgiving with everyone’s six best friends.
2. "Little Women" (2019)
While it doesn’t feature the holiday of Thanksgiving in any way, shape or form, Greta Gerwig’s 2019 film adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel is an exceptional piece of storytelling about family. This story has been adapted numerous times, but the choice to tell it by cutting between two timelines greatly enhances the momentum and emotional climax of the story. A film about how familial and romantic love fill different needs in life and how those relationships define our lives, "Little Women" can give anyone a reason to be thankful for their loved ones on turkey day.
3. "Cheers" – "Thanksgiving Orphans"
Quite possibly the greatest sitcom of all-time, "Cheers" delivered such a memorable Thanksgiving episode in 1986 that it became tradition for numerous other sitcoms afterwards to mimic it. This episode sees every member of the Cheers bar lose or skip out on their normal plans for the holiday until their only option is to have dinner with each other. This Thanksgiving episode embraces the characters' loneliness and seasonal depression and balances it with some uplifting realizations about friendship and comradery. Come for the relatable emotions and quirky character interactions, but stick around for the incredible final scene, which is one of the funniest in the show’s long history.
4. "This is America, Charlie Brown" – "The Mayflower Voyagers"
"The Mayflower Voyagers" is the first episode in a series of "Peanuts" specials titled "This is America, Charlie Brown," no relation to Childish Gambino. "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" was too obvious, so the Peanuts spotlight on this list goes to this 1988 spinoff that is a bit of an oddball in the iconic cartoon series. It breaks the first rule of any "Peanuts" episode by showing fully animated and speaking adults, a choice that, while jarring, is fun because of how rare it is for the series. The episode is mostly a recollection of the events of the Mayflower voyage with some humor-infused set-pieces. If there are a lot of kids at your Thanksgiving gathering, this pick is funny and weird enough to keep everyone entertained.
5. "The Big Chill"
Released in 1983 by director Lawrence Kasdan, "The Big Chill" remains a touchstone cultural artifact that is the perfect representation of the political and social philosophies of the Baby Boomer generation. The film focuses on a group of eight college friends who reunite on Thanksgiving weekend for the funeral of a mutual college pal who committed suicide. The premise is certainly dour, but the stacked cast and the lively personalities they inherit make this a must-watch. There’s a good chance your grandparents loved this movie, and its killer soundtrack featuring songs from The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and Creedence Clearwater Revival ensures this one will resonate with the older folks while still providing some angst for the Millennials and Zoomers.